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No. 3

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Homeschool Bill Fails

In a bizarre series of events, Senate Bill 2371, which started off as a good bill, then was amended by the Senate Education Committee to become a bad bill, then amended again to become a good bill as it passed the full Senate, became a bad bill again in the House Education Committee and was finally voted down in the full House on March 16, 2007.

As originally introduced, S.B. 2371 would have changed the law to permit grandparents and foster parents to homeschool, to clarify that homeschooled students only have to take the basic battery of standardized tests, and to permit parents to choose a test that was not nationally normed. As amended by the House Education Committee, the bill would not have even permitted grandparents to homeschool and would have added the following restrictions to state law:

  • Required monitoring of parents by a certified teacher to continue beyond two years if a student scored below grade level or below the 50th percentile in any subject;

  • Imposed monitoring for one year on any family at the family’s expense if the superintendent of public instruction determined that the family had violated any provision of the homeschool law;

  • Required testing in grades 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11 with the state assessment or with a nationally normed standardized achievement test;

  • Required the parent choosing a standardized achievement test to pay for the cost of having the test administered in all cases; and

  • Required continued evaluation of the student for progress by the superintendent (if a remediation plan were implemented because of a low test score) until the student received a score “above the lowest achievement level on every subject tested on the state achievement assessment, a score at or above the thirtieth percentile on every subject tested on a nationally normed standardized achievement test,” or a score demonstrating one year of academic progress.

This was a disappointing experience for home educators in North Dakota who were seeking only minor improvements in the current law. It points out that proposed legislation can go in any direction before its final outcome. Had it not been for the outcry of homeschoolers objecting to the unfavorable amendments, North Dakota could have gotten an even worse law than it has now.

— by Dewitt T. Black